Smart Shopping 2: Real Ways We Save Money in the Kitchen with Scraps

Welcome to our second installment of Smart Shopping. Today, Jessi talks kitchen scraps and making the most of waste in the kitchen.

I am the queen of “waste not, want not.” It’s something I learned from my mother, and she from my grandmother before her.

So let’s back up and have a mini history lesson. My grandmother was a product of the Great Depression during which period she passed her formative years. As a result, she was very aware of the resources that she had allotted to her and knew how to make the best use of what she had available at any given time. One example is her dedication to composting and gardening.

My mother will tell stories of being taught to carefully separate out compost and recycling from the trash in the early 1970s, long before this type of trash awareness was in vogue.

Similarly, my grandmother was very adept at reusing what most people in the kitchen would simply label scraps.

For her, the two most crucial “scraps” to any home cook’s arsenal were vegetable trimmings and bones. With these two ingredients, you could liven up even the simplest meals in the kitchen.

How I Use Scraps

Having grown up learning that bone marrow is a delicious delicacy and that almost anything in the kitchen has a second life (like coffee grounds, y’all!), I am still very careful about how I separate scraps and compost from recycling and garbage.

Generally, that means I carefully collect vegetable trimmings and freeze them. That way I can use them for soup stocks. Sometimes too, I freeze particular things separately like broccoli stems and herbs from which I make pestos and dips which are blended and aren’t as heavily dependent on the texture of freshness.

Likewise, I save all bones. Bones are wonderful for stocks, broths, and drinking broth. I mean, have you seen how much a jar of bone broth costs now?! Plus the different flavors that you can get allow for incredible experimentation. The latest example that I can give you of bone broth innovation is when I used some leftover barbecued rib bones and turned them into a ramen broth. Smokey, slightly sweet, and mildly peppery, the base was a perfect complement to my Americanized version of a classic Japanese dish.

How Much Money Does This Save Me?

Honestly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much money that saves me. However, I can tell you that the extra taste it lends my dishes is invaluable.

So rarely do I buy jarred sauces, broths, or dips, that when I do they always taste heavily processed and never worth the $5 that I spend on them. For me, it’s worth an extra hour in the kitchen so that I can bring my food to life.